Drugs, Society and Criminal Justice Drug Abuse and Pregnancy

Essay by keishabbwnjUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, April 2008

download word file, 4 pages 4.7

In the Supreme Court of the United States October Term, 1997 Cornelia Whitner vs. The State of South Carolina ruled that a fetus was considered a person under the state child abuse laws. Making it a crime against a fetus and pregnant women could be prosecuted under this law. In 1992, Cornelia Whitner was sentenced to eight years in prison from smoking crack cocaine while she was pregnant. She was charged with unlawful child neglect. The South Carolina Supreme Court became the first (and remains the only) state supreme court to issue such a ruling. This decision opened up the flood gates for law enforcement agencies to arrest and prosecute pregnant women for child abuse, child neglect, and homicide who has or had a drug abuse or alcohol dependency during pregnancy.

So the big question is, "Do arresting pregnant women for using drugs promote the health of mothers or children?" Depending on whom you ask this question to.

If you ask a laws maker this question he/she would state that this law was decided in the best interest of the unborn child and it helps deter drug use among pregnant women. But, if you ask the health care professionals they would state that this law forced pregnant drug users to flee from prenatal care because, of fear of prosecution and it doesn't help the unborn child or it's mother. Statistics state that once this law was enacted the prenatal care went down not up.

A government survey in 2005 states, that only four percent of pregnant women use illicit drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, Ecstasy, heroin, and other amphetamines, however, I believe the decrease is a direct result of stricter laws being emplaced to deter pregnant women from using drugs in eighteen states not, because of harm reduction. 1997 the...